The politics of the reshuffles: the Baker and Featherstone moves worked

There has been a consistent thread running through Nick Clegg’s most recent government reshuffles: get good campaigners into posts where they can run successful high profile campaigns, implementing liberal policies and winning Liberal Democrat votes.

Put like that, it sounds uncontroversial, but when it has involved the departure of Jeremy Browne from government and swapping out from posts in the Foreign Office and Ministry of Defence, it has been rather more controversial.

Which is why last week was significant. Two key parts of the plan were getting Lynne Featherstone in at the Department of International Development and (subsequently) getting Norman Baker in at the Home Office.

The combination of the two have given a huge boost to support for the African-led fight to end female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C).

Between them they have managed to build successful coalitions with other campaigners on the issue – especially important given the need for a successful campaign to be led by vocal voices from the countries most affected. They have also got the logjams over domestic prosecutions starting to ease up. Norman Baker’s determined persistence on this issue in the face of myriad bureaucracies is Norman at his best.

Last, and very much least – but still important for a political party – they’ve done all this with it clearly being the Liberal Democrats politically in the lead on the issue.

This was the theory of how the reshuffles were meant to work out. Reality is matching and justifying that theory.

Note – as I tweeted after this piece first appeared on Lib Dem Voice: